Op-ed: Unlike Norway’s Breivik, Toulouse killer Merah represents far wider phenomenon
For those who want to understand contemporary European reality somewhat better, comparing the murders committed by Mohammed Merah in Toulouse with the ones by Norwegian Anders Breivik would be a good start. These killings and the responses to them have important elements in common, yet also differ on other major issues. Both murderers were driven by ideology and chose their targets within specific groups – Breivik aimed primarily at the Labor Party, while Merah chose his victims among soldiers and the Jewish community.
After the Breivik murders, Norwegian Labor Party Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg stated that Norway would respond with even more democracy and openness. This was propaganda, as the opposite took place. Norway is a country where opponents of the Labor establishment had great difficulty expressing themselves before the murders. Afterwards it became almost impossible for them.
American author Bruce Bawer describes this in his latest book, The New Quislings. Its subtitle is How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate about Islam. Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian PM under the German occupation, became the template for a person who betrays his country and collaborates with foreign totalitarians. His name has even become a generic word in dictionaries. Bawer suggests that there are leftists, to be called “New Quislings,” who betray democracy by helping totalitarian Islam. He also describes how he himself was demonized in Norway after the murders.
Breivik was a loner. Intelligence services did not claim that they had information about other such potential murderers. A logical question was thus asked: Who had incited Breivik to commit atrocities? There are no organized groups calling for the mass murder of socialists.
As Breivik had mentioned many names in a lengthy manifesto he had previously published, a few of those who wrote negatively about Islam were selected to be accused by the media. Among them were Bat Yeor, author of the book Eurabia; Norwegian blogger Fjordman, whose real name, Peder Jensen, was revealed; the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders. and Bawer.
None of these people had ever promoted violence. Breivik did not move in their circles either. These “New Quislings,” however, needed scapegoats that could be made responsible for Breivik’s vicious crimes.
100 million Qaeda fans
Whoever questions where Merah got his worldview from doesn’t have to search far to find out. This murderer claimed publicly before his death that he supports al-Qaeda, one of the most violent Muslim movements. In the coming weeks, more will become known about where he was trained and in which circles he moved.
According to leading American research organization Pew, there are at least 100 million Muslims in the world who largely support al-Qaeda. Even if only a small percentage of them were willing to become murderers themselves, this is still a substantial number. Gilles de Kerchove, the European anti-terror coordinator, suggests that there are hundreds of potential lone wolf murderers like Merah in Europe.
Merah claimed he was motivated to murder a teacher and three children at the Jewish school in Toulouse in solidarity with Palestinian child victims. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad distanced himself from Merah. He stated that Palestinian children should not be used to legitimize terrorism. However, Fayyad forgot to mention far more important things.
His Palestinian Authority names youth camps, sports tournaments, streets and schools after its own homegrown terrorists who have killed Israeli civilians, including many children. In its charter, Hamas, the largest Palestinian party, calls for the genocide of Jews. Hamas also trains Palestinian children to become suicide murderers.
Beyond al-Qaeda, one finds prominent Muslim religious leaders who support suicide murders. There are hate imams calling for the murder of Jews in Europe also. During anti-Israel demonstrations, it is mainly European Muslims who shout “Death to the Jews” and “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas.” There are many other easily identifiable inciters in the Islamic world who share Merah’s worldview.
With all those explicitly calling for murder or supporting it, one doesn’t have to pay much attention to anyone else. Yet it is easy to find people who have indirectly laid the Western infrastructure for Israel-hatred and anti-Semitism. One finds many of them in politics, academia, media, trade unions, NGOs and churches. As they are all “second in line,” they remain outside the focus of those who search for Merah’s inciters.
Whitewashers are already calling Merah “a victim.” Yet the murders he committed should raise far more serious questions about Europe than those committed by Breivik. There are many more terrorists around like Merah, and his acts have much broader support.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He has published 20 books. Several of these address anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism